Food & Nutrition Part 2: What Your Body Needs?

by Jeremy Michaels

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WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS? To maintain healthy, your body needs certain essential daily vitamins and minerals from food to function properly. Your body also needs important daily carbohydrates such a fiber and protein. Your body also needs certain good “fats”

Fiber: You need about 35 grams of dietary fiber daily. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that helps balance blood sugar, control hunger and keeps your intestines healthy. Eating fiber feeds the good probiotic bacteria in your immune system, keeps the digestive lining healthy and absorbs and pulls excess hormones, cholesterol, fat and toxins from the body. Fiber helps us digest and pass the foods we eat. By increasing our fiber intake, we decrease the risks of common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. There are 2 types of fiber we need to balance out, insoluble and soluble. Fiber mainly comes from vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans and whole grains.

Protein: You need about 40 grams of protein daily. Your body needs protein to perform basic bodily functions such as building new cells, and maintain tissues. Protein is mainly in animal products such as milk, chicken, beef, pork and fish but more healthy protein is in vegetables, nuts and beans.

Fat: Your body needs fat! So stop being scared of fat. Fat is the source of your body’s energy and it’s needed to hold every cell in your body, as well as support your organs and body systems. The trick is separating the good fat from the bad fat.

There are 4 types of fat in food:

  • Monounsaturated Fat: Good fat. Heart healthy kind of unsaturated fat that helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Helps the body burn fat. (Found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, olives, etc.)
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: Good fat. Another heart healthy kind of unsaturated fat that helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. (Found in salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and corn)

Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known by another name: omegas. There are 3 types of omega fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are two types of polyunsaturated fat. They are considered essential fatty acids because the body cannot manufacture them. Omega-9 fatty acids are from a family of monounsaturated fats that also are beneficial when obtained in food.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A polyunsaturated fat that boosts brain function, reduces blood pressure, protects against coronary heart disease, fights inflammation and helps maintain skin health. (Found in flaxseeds, flax seed oil, fish oil, salmon, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, walnuts, brazil nuts, etc.)

Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Must balance with Omega-3 fatty acids for health benefits. (Found in poultry, eggs, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and peanut oil)

Striking a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet allows both substances to work together to promote health. An improper balance or too much omega-6 fatty acid promotes inflammation and can contribute to the development of diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

Omega-9 Fatty Acids: From the family of unsaturated fats commonly found in vegetable oils such as canola, olive, peanut, safflower and sunflower. The primary omega-9 fatty acid is oleic acid. (Found in the above oils, avocados, olives, almonds, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts)

  • Saturated Fat: Bad fat. No more than 5% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fats. Saturated fat breaks down into solids in the body and raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. (Found in animal products such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, butter and cheese. Also found in healthy plant-based products such as coconut and tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter. However the saturated fat from coconut oil is indeed very healthy for you since it’s paired with lauric acid)
  • Trans Fat: Very bad fat. Think of trans fat as thick hard hair balls clogged in a shower drain, thinking of the shower drain as your body. Trans fat is basically a artificial hard to move body fat that makes your body systems hard to work and causes them not to be effective. It also raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood like saturated fat. Trans fat is found in all types of foods that contain hydrogenated oils. (Found in vegetable shortening, margarine, most processed foods, chips, cookies, crackers, cereals and in fried foods from fast-food and other restaurants.)

Good Cholesterol: Yes, your body needs cholesterol but it’s important to limit your total daily intake of cholesterol to less than 300mg. That’s because our body makes cholesterol on it’s own. Your body needs cholesterol for many different important functions in the body. Cholesterol mostly comes from certain animal products such as eggs, meat and dairy products. Balance the right kind of fats to have good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Vitamins: There any many essential vitamins your body needs daily – from “food”. Some have biochemical functions and others function as antioxidants. The following list below are the daily vitamins your body needs, the benefit of them and certain foods high in them.

  • Vitamin A: For a strong immune system, vision and healthy skin. (Carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apricots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mango, dried herbs and spices such as paprika, red pepper, cayenne and chili powder)
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Needed for energy metabolism and important for nerve function (Pork, legumes, fish, tahini, nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia nuts and pecans, dried herbs and spices such as poppy seeds, sage, paprika, mustard seed, rosemary and thyme)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Helps with oxygen absorption and the production of red blood cells. Important for normal vision and healthy skin. (Almonds, edamame, cheese, wheat bran, fish, sesame seeds and sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Important for nervous system, digestive system and skin health. Also lowers (LDL) bad cholesterol and boosts (HDL) good cholesterol. (Brown rice, chicken, fish, whole grains, peanuts, paprika, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, peanut butter)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Helps body process proteins, carbs and fats. It also has anti-stress and pro sleep benefits. (Beans and other legumes, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, lean meats, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, avocado and cheese)
  • Vitamin B6: To make nervous system and immune system function efficiently and essential for red blood cell metabolism. (Brown rice, herbs and spices such as garlic, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, dried tarragon, sage, basil, chives, turmeric, bay leaves, etc., pistachios, fish, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, pork, potatoes, bananas, chicken, oatmeal, hazelnuts)
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Reduces insulin resistance and enhances sugar tolerance. (Egg yolk, nuts, carrots, avocados, swiss chard)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid): Keeps bloodstream flowing. (Spinach, broccoli, beans and legumes, sunflower seeds, edamame, collard greens, turnip, asparagus, orange juice and peanuts)
  • Vitamin B12: Good for memory loss, fatigue, loss of balance, decreased reflexes, low energy levels, pain, numbness, tingling in the arms and legs and hearing loss. (Seafood such as clams, oysters, mussels, salmon, crab, lobster, octopus and tuna, also lean beef, cheese and eggs)
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant vitamin. Important for immune system health and aids in iron absorption. Also can cure colds. Can cure cancer in high doses. (Only in fruits and vegetables: Bell peppers, red and green hot chili peppers, guavas, thyme and parsley, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, grapefruits, strawberries, oranges, kiwi, papaya, tomatoes, etc.)
  • Vitamin D: Needed for proper absorption of calcium for bones. (Egg yolks, fish, sardines, mushrooms, oysters, and when you are exposed to sunlight outside)
  • Vitamin E: Antioxidant vitamin. Prevents cancers and protects cell walls. Also maintains skin health. (sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, spinach, dried apricots, and dried herbs and spices such as chili powder, paprika, basil, oregano, sage, parsley, cumin and sage)
  • Vitamin K: Needed to prevent blood clotting. Helps liver function. (Kale, collard greens, cabbage, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, scallions, asparagus, cucumber, prunes, and dried herbs and spices such as basil, sage and thyme, chili powder, cayenne, curry and paprika)

Minerals: Along with vitamins, minerals are the most important elements needed by the body. Along with amino acids and fatty acids, minerals are the basic building blocks of every cell in your body. The following list below are the minerals your body needs daily, the benefit of them and the certain foods high in them.

  • Calcium: As the overachiever of minerals, calcium builds bones, helps with weight loss and decreases the risk of colon cancer. (almonds, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, flaxseeds, brazil nuts, dried herbs and dairy products)
  • Iron: Needed for energy metabolism and important for nerve function (lean meats, whole grains, beans and other legumes, spinach, swiss chard, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts, dark chocolate and certain seafood)
  • Copper: An antioxidant that’s active in nerve function and bone growth. It also helps the body burn sugar. (oysters, sesame seeds, tahini, chocolate, nuts such as cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, lobster and dried herbs and spices such as dried basil, marjojam and oregano)
  • Magnesium: Helps regulate blood pressure and decreases the chance of diabetes and stroke. It can also relieve a headache or migraine. (Whole grains, dried herbs and spices such as coriander, chives, spearmint, sage and basil, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, squash seeds, flaxseeds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, cashews and edamame)
  • Manganese: Crucial in digestion and metabolism and helps the body process cholesterol, carbs and protein. (Whole grains, brown rice, pineapple, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans, dried herbs and spices such as cloves, saffron and chili powder, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, tahini, edamame, sunflower seeds, spinach, beans and oatmeal)
  • Phosphorus: Helps form bones and teeth, keeps kidneys functioning and regulates heartbeat. (nuts and seeds such as flax, sesame, sunflower, watermelon, pumpkin and squash, edamame, cheese and meat)
  • Potassium: Lowers your high blood pressure and relieves muscle cramps. (white beans, spinach, swiss chard, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, salmon, avocados, mushrooms and bananas)
  • Selenium: Prevents the chance of cancers. Needed for men for an overall good sperm production. (Brazil nuts, fish, whole grains, sunflower seeds, pork, lobster, crabs, shrimps)
  • Sodium: You only need about 200mg of salt a day. Sodium regulates the amount of water in the cells in your body and balances your body fluids. It also helps nerves and muscles in the body to work properly. You must make sure you’re consuming the real salt which is unrefined salt, rather than refined salt aka table salt that increases blood pressure. (The bad refined high sodium is found in processed foods, processed meats, soups, tomato sauces, breads, cheeses, potato chips, milk, pizza, macaroni and cheese, salad dressings and sauces.)
  • Zinc: An antioxidant that improves your blood circulation. It’s vital for the functioning of proteins, enzymes and hormones in your body. For men, it’s especially important for testosterone and sperm production. (oysters, crabs, lobster, watermelon seeds, dark chocolate and peanuts)

Water: Your body needs water since the human body is dependent on water. The body cannot carry out and sustain its functions without water. Drink 2 to 3 liters a day!

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